Ferrara, a company related to The Ferrero Group, is an emerging powerhouse in the North American confections and sweet snacking categories. A passionate team of more than 6,000 employees works together to share delight in every bite through leading brands that have shaped the industry for more than 100 years.

Continuous Improvement Specialist (1st Shift) Itasca

Job Location: ​Itasca​

Want to make an impact?

Primary Purpose

Drives CI production, warehouse, processing, and packaging activities, with a focus on Continuous Improvement projects, to achieve the safety, quality, customer service, and costs goals. Needs to collaborate closely with team, factory, engineering, and other corporate groups to achieve project objectives aligned with business needs. This position plays a key role in a customer driven manufacturing function charged with continuously improving all aspects of performance.  Needs to be able to carry out appropriate financial analysis to validate/support proposals and gain support of key stakeholders.

Ways you will make a difference

Major Responsibilities

  • Responsible for identifying, chartering, and leading CI productivity improvement initiatives - delivering the project results on time.
  • Provide project updates to the factory leadership team and project stakeholders highlighting the current status, adherence to the project time plan, work accomplished, quick wins, points of escalation, elements of risk and the associated mitigation plans.
  • Utilize continuous improvement tools and methodologies (RCA, DMAIC, Loss Tree Analysis, IPA, etc.) to drive sustainable operational improvements.
  • Collect, analyze given data and operating conditions; implement changes and follow-up on results by involving key responsible people (i.e. sponsor, process owner, and operator).
  • Determine means to reduce material usages, material losses and rework, and to increase process efficiencies. 
  • Carry out follow-up programs to maintain the achieved savings, to complete additional training, to detect further savings opportunities, as well as ensure the overall continuity of projects.
  • Participate in annual budget process to assess all run rate efficiencies, nominal speeds, and scrap values by component.
  • Contribute to respective trials, together with the supervisors and managers, before any change or newly designed system or method is installed.  Assist the operations, supervisors, and managers for adapting changes to take the necessary actions and any other steps required to ensure the achievement of the best possible result.
  • Work collaboratively with product development, marketing, supply chain, finance, and operations to bring new products to market and meet the defined project objectives.
  • Ensure that factory safety, operational and quality standards are adhered to.
  • Facilitate improvements in hourly workforce proficiency, training, and development programs.
  • Interacts with other department’s heads to exchange information impacting productivity performance.
  • Drive continuous improvements in the following areas, processing, packaging, and warehouse
  • Escalate issues in a timely manner
  • Other responsibilities as assigned

Skills that will make you successful

Competencies/Skills/Knowledge Required

  • Strong project management skills, including excellent planning and organizational skills.
  • Proficient in hi-speed packaging and process equipment application/design, process development, and continuous improvement techniques, including but not limited to TPM, Lean, and Six Sigma.
  • Must be able to work in and add value to a fast paced, high stress manufacturing environment
  • Superb people skills (coaching/counseling, motivation, performance, employee, relations, etc.) at hourly and staff level
  • Team-building skills both inter and intra department
  • Exceptional analytical, root-cause-analysis, and decision-making abilities
  • Effective written and verbal communication/presentation skills
  • Creative, highly motivated, and self-starting
  • Computer literate, Microsoft Office, Advanced Microsoft Excel

Experiences that will support your success

Education and Experience


  • Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering, Engineering or Business
  • Two years of experience in food manufacturing preferred.
  • Six Sigma or Lean background with examples of application and results preferred
  • Ability to work periodically on any shift, per individual project requirements. 
  • Knowledge of SAP preferred

Our diverse portfolio of nearly 35 brands includes SweeTARTS®, Trolli®, BRACH'S®, Black Forest® and NERDS®, along with iconic favorites like Lemonhead®, Red Hots® and Now and Later®. Ferrara also manages the Keebler® and Famous Amos® businesses for The Ferrero Group.  Headquartered in Chicago, Ferrara has an operational network of 20 locations in North America that includes manufacturing, distribution and R&D facilities. Learn more at www.ferrarausa.com.


We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all qualified applicants and employees, employment decisions and opportunities at Ferrara will be based on merit, qualifications, and abilities, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital or civil union status, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, military or veteran status, disability, handicap, genetic information, pregnancy (childbirth or related medical condition), or on any other basis prohibited by law. This policy governs all aspects of employment, including selection, job assignment, compensation, discipline, termination, and access to benefits and training.